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Juvenile Justice

Mom Who Cut Teen Daughter’s Hair in Court Complains About Judge; Do ‘Shame’ Sentences Work?

Posted Jun 25, 2012 6:26 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Utah mother who says she felt intimidated by a state-court judge into agreeing on the spot to cut her 13-year-old daughter's hair in court during a May hearing says she has filed a legal ethics complaint against the judge.

Although the complaint hasn't officially been confirmed, Valerie Bruno says she has asked the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission to look into the way the District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen handled the hearing, the Associated Press reports.

The teen and another girl, 11, had been referred to the court because they had cut a 3-year-old girl's hair.

Meanwhile, one law professor whether such "shame" sentences are effective.

"I fail to see how the court reducing itself to the level of a 13-year-old teaches a moral let alone legal lesson," says law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University. "The court was doing precisely what the 13-year-old did to a child."

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